Rock Lititz back on track

By on January 28, 2015

Warwick Twp. ditches proposed noise ordinance in favor of consent agreement

Warwick Township officials had promised to craft a noise ordinance similar to the one in effect in the other Warwick Township.

But unlike its Bucks County neighbor — whose noise ordinance serves to curb noise issues throughout its entire township — the local Warwick Township’s lone objective was to address noise levels with one particular institution: Rock Lititz.

Officials had made the promise in October to residents whose numerous complaints about noise and vibration led to the shut down of the Rock Lititz studio one week after it officially opened – for its dynamic rock and pop group clients’ audio and stage rehearsals.Rock Lititz Nov 5

The studio is part of a $100 million campus project that has been lauded as an economic juggernaut that will jolt the local economy by creating 600 jobs, attracting entertainment industry vendors, and spur growth from retail to lodging and beyond.

Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township manager, said passing such an ordinance aimed exclusively at a unique business such as Rock Lititz could take several more months or even a year.

Such a noise ordinance could also face legal challenges since courts have consistently struck down knee-jerk laws narrowly tailored against a single entity such as Rock Lititz in this case.

Another challenge to Warwick’s noise ordinance would be crafting a law aimed monitoring Rock Lititz’s “industrial” noise emissions while blending regulations on resident alarm systems, mass public assemblies, nuisances, zoning and others that could be considered overly broad by courts.

Ultimately the Warwick Township Board of Supervisors agreed Jan. 21 to craft a consent agreement that is an accord exclusive to the township and Rock Lititz – with the sole purpose to protect a small section of residents who live near the studio.

“We looked at all of our options and found doing a consent agreement made the most sense,” Zimmerman said. “It accomplishes our objective most expeditiously and we can always go back and re-address the (noise ordinance) if there becomes a need to.”

Zimmerman said a consent agreement could be finalized on a vote by supervisors as quickly as their Feb. 18 meeting.

The consent agreement will include decibel limits for sound emanating from the studio onto residential properties, how the sound will be monitored and how the township will enforce the agreement.

Rock Lititz has made broad changes at the studio since the October shutdown most notably spraying four million pounds of concrete onto the portions of the building’s 100-foot high walls which Rock Lititz says has halted low-frequency sound from escaping.

Hours of testing in late December found sound in a handful of neighboring homes is no longer audible.

Rock Lititz has said full production rehearsals for rock and pop groups, including use of their audio systems, will resume shortly.

A Warwick Township consultant accompanied Rock Lititz to test and verify Rock Lititz’s findings.

Zimmerman has promised to prepare a report for the Record Express on the noise levels monitored while consultants for the township and Rock Lititz studied the problem.

Still, supervisors were presented with only a rough draft of the consent agreement Wednesday and did not discuss many specifics.

But Zimmerman said that Warwick Township in the future will access monitoring equipment to assess noise and vibration levels emitted from Rock Lititz.

Zimmerman said the board is satisfied that Rock Lititz’s sound and vibration problems are corrected and he praised the company’s “passionate vision to resolve this issue.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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